Heart disease: prevention cheaper than treatment

Dr. Sam and the Managed Care Blues will be the featured entertainers at SET Family Medical Clinic’s anniversary dinner and silent auction Sept. 17.

The cost of treating non-obstructive artery disease: $767,000.
The cost of treating blocked arteries: $1 million.
The cost of educating women to prevent heart disease: priceless.
Treating a woman’s mild artery blockage could cost a quarter of a million dollars.
And serious heart conditions? That’s going to cost about $1 million, according to a study in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.
That’s why the local chapter of the heart association takes its “Go Red for Women” education day so seriously.
The event teaches women about preventing heart disease, saving their lives as well as their financial well-being.
Go Red for Women in Colorado Springs is scheduled for Oct. 12 at the Antlers Hilton and will feature health screenings, heart disease information and a heart-healthy lunch.
More than 400 women attended the event last year.
“The societal burden for coronary artery disease for women with chest pain is expensive and could be responsible for a sizeable portion of U.S. health care costs,” said Leslee J. Shaw, lead researcher for the study.
Researchers investigated the economic burden of cardiac symptoms for 883 women who had been referred for coronary angiography and compared data about their health, finances and quality of life for five years.
About 60 percent of the women had non-obstructive coronary artery disease — blockage of less than 50 percent of the artery; 17 percent had one coronary vessel blocked and 11 percent had two vessels affected.
“Almost two-thirds of the women had heart disease (but) nothing to be considered high-risk,” Shaw said. “So we assumed these women would not have as many health care needs as those with blockage of one, two or three vessels. But we found that the factor was ongoing angina. It was a prominent driver of the need for clinical care, outpatient therapy, hospitalization and drug therapies.”
Drug treatment costs were higher for those 62 percent, Shaw said. The average cost was $767,000.
For women with blocked arteries, the cost is $1 million or more.
Half the women had annual household incomes of less than $35,000, with indirect costs equaling 10 percent of their financial resources.
Because of the high costs of prescription medicine, many women can’t afford the medicine the doctor prescribes.
That information should lead doctors to prescribe drugs less often — and possibly opt for lifestyle changes, physical therapy or other interventions, Shaw said.
“It’s easy for doctors to write a prescription, but they must be aware of other, non-medical repercussions that their patients may not be able to handle financially, down the road,” she said.

SET Family Medical Clinics host anniversary dinner

“You picked a fine time to leave me Blue Shield…
I need a pay raise, to make all these co-pays and I’m worrying about my next meal
You picked a fine time to leave me Blue Shield…
With no authorization, at the nurse’s station, I just couldn’t get past the nurse. Getting no better, I wrote me a letter addressed to my new HMO, but I’m still awaiting and anticipating, ’cause that’s damn near four years ago.”

Those lyrics are just some of the entertainment offered by Dr. Sam and the Managed Care Blues, a jazz and blues band created by Florida doctors who were frustrated by health care problems created by managed care and who perform to draw attention to the health care crisis.
Dr. Sam will be playing at the SET Family Medical Clinics’ anniversary dinner and silent auction at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at Cheyenne Mountain Resort.
The event will raise money for the clinics, which specialize in treating homeless and low-income families. Gov. Bill Ritter will be the keynote speaker.
“There are 100,000 men, women and children within El Paso County alone that cannot afford health insurance. We want this fundraising event to be successful so that we can provide services to this population,” said Zelna Joseph, SET’s president and CEO.
Dr. Sam will play other tunes from his CD as well, including “No Overnight Blues,” “New Baby Blues” and “Checkin’ on my Records (seems everyone’s had a look).”
Tickets are $100 for individuals and $175 for couples. The entertainment portion of the event is $15 for individuals and $20 for couples.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 776-8850 visit www.setofcs.org.
Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.